The Monsters that Lurk in Illuminated Texts

Imagine spending all day, every day, writing. That was the lot for many Medieval monks. It was grueling work, so we can’t begrudge them a little levity in the margins. The illustrations that adorn illuminated texts go from the silly to the downright bizarre. Here are some of my favorites.

A bird-like demon with a smaller fighting demon and a woman in his basket, from Nürnberger Schembart-Buch, 17th century

A bird-like demon with a two figures fighting in his basket, from Nürnberger Schembart-Buch, 17th century

I included this skeleton from Ars bene moriendi (France, 1470-1480) mostly because I love skeletons.

I included this skeleton from Ars bene moriendi (France, 1470-1480) mostly because I love skeletons.

Bizarre bird-cat from the Luttrell Psalter, Add 42130 f.197r, c.1325-1335

Bizarre bird-dog-tiger from the Luttrell Psalter, Add 42130 f.197r, c.1325-1335

 

A battle between headless combatants from the Breviary of Renaud de Bar, France, 1302-1303

A battle between headless combatants from the Breviary of Renaud de Bar, France, 1302-1303

Here we have what appears to be a demon (or monster) eating a doughnut. This is from Les Grandes Heures du duc de Berry, Paris, 1409.

Here we have what appears to be a demon (or monster) eating a doughnut. This is from Les Grandes Heures du duc de Berry, Paris, 1409.

There seems to be a trend in Medieval illuminations of animals attacking people.

Homicidal rabbit from Gorleston Psalter, England, 14th century

Homicidal rabbit from Gorleston Psalter, England, 14th century

A very angry, axe-weilding, ape. (Source unknown)

A very angry, axe-weilding, ape. (Source unknown)

Rabbits about to kill a man from The Smithfield Decretals, c. 1300

Rabbits about to kill a man from The Smithfield Decretals, c. 1300

We also see many examples of animal warfare.

Dogs battle rabbits from the Breviary of Renaud de Bar, France, 1302-1303

Dogs battle rabbits from the Breviary of Renaud de Bar, France, 1302-1303

Here, foxes siege a castle of monkeys from a 13th-century Bible.

Here, foxes siege a castle of monkeys from a 13th-century Bible.

A dog and a rabbit joust. Source unknown.

A dog and a rabbit joust. Source unknown.

And then there are the snails. Seriously. Many many illustrations show knights battling snails. Scholars are baffled as to the significance.

A knight about to slay an monstrous snail from The Smithsfield Decretals, decretals of Gregory IX, Tolouse, c. 1300. Illuminations were added about forty years later in London.

A knight about to slay an monstrous snail from The Smithsfield Decretals, decretals of Gregory IX, Tolouse, c. 1300. Illuminations were added about forty years later in London.

Another knight (this one riding a dragon) is about to spear two snails from The Queen Mary Psalter, c 1310-1320 via British Library

Another knight (this one riding a dragon) is about to spear two snails from The Queen Mary Psalter, c 1310-1320 via British Library

So the next time you see a snail, pull your sword.

Tim Kane

Monsters and Aliens, Oh My

Tom Gauld creates stunning prints of monsters and aliens. Check out his hairy monster below. I took the liberty of animating it so you could see all 3 prints.

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Animated gif of a monster’s internal organs. Click to see him animate.

He also has a “Noisy Alphabet” where aliens create all the sounds.

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He also has multiple comic strips. Here’s my fav, having read Ulysses myself.

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Check this artist out. You won’t be disappointed.

Tim Kane

Three Films That Will Scare the Pants Off You in About a Minute!

We all like to be scared, but sometimes it takes too long. To be able to build atmosphere and reach the scare in just a few minutes is a feat. Look at these three films, that scare you in ever decreasing amounts of time.

Sukablood scares you in 6 and a half minutes. It’s a twist on a fairytale and teaches you not to suck your thumb.

Suckablood – short fairytale horror from BloodyCuts.co.uk on Vimeo.

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Mama is a preview of a film by Guillermo Del Toro. He manages to scare the heck out of you in 2 minutes.

One Last Dive is the fast scare in town. It goes from normal to terrifying in 1 minute.

One Last Dive from jasoneisener on Vimeo.

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Check these out and see if they scare you.

Tim Kane

The Daily Life of Interplanetary Aliens

I was strolling around the internet, minding my own business, and then I chance upon Handymartian’s Illustrated Aliens. Amazed, to say the least. The video shorts are astoundingly funny. The name Handymartian is a mixed up version of Andy Martin. This is an ongoing illustration project of his.

Mr. Perry

Mr. Perry

Here’s his first Plant Video: Planet One. This entails an alien “jam” session.

Planet Five shows a bizarre evolutionary sequence that’s mesmerizing to watch.

Finally, here is one of his original two-dimensional illustrations for his videos.

Spiky amoeba.

Spiky amoeba.

 

Watch and enjoy.

Tim Kane

Living the Pumpkin Carving Life

It’s October and I’m watching Halloween Wars. No, I don’t style myself on par with the expert pumpkin carvers, but I’ve created some pulpy ghouls over the years. One of the best tools I’ve seen (and one I need to buy) is the bent wire stylus used by clay sculptors. Currently, I use a strawberry corer to make detail work on the face of pumpkins. But I’m going too far. Most folk want to cut your classic pumpkin without all the hassle. I have a few tips.

Now, the pumpkin I worked with ended up being a monster. Seriously, this thing was at least an inch and a half thick. I could hardly cut it. That being said, ditch those orange plastic pumpkin carving tools they sell at the store. Totally useless. Here’s what you need:

  • A bread knife
  • A steak knife
  • An ice cream scoop
  • A bowl to hold all the pulp and seeds

Pumpkin Tools

The ice cream scoop is great because the spoon has sides that are vertical (unlike a flat spoon) which makes digging into a pumpkin through a small hole easy. If you have one with a release lever (like the one pictured) then you never get your fingers gunky (although you loose out on all the fun that way).

I typically use the bread knife to cut off the top because I’m going for power, not finesse. Once I get to the face, I switch to the steak knife. Serrated edges are the key. You want to saw through the pumpkin. Nothing is worse than punching in with a standard knife and have the blade trapped by the pumpkin. Literally, you can’t move that thing.

Cutting out the eye hole.

Don’t be afraid to over cut the holes. Generally, they don’t show. Toss everything in a bowl as you go to ease clean up. For the finished “classic” pumpkin, I use one of those battery-operated candles. These are great because you still get the flicker, but without any heat.

There are all these opinions on how to preserve a pumpkin. Mostly, I leave them out. They’re going to rot. Accept it. If I do want to keep one, I stash it in the fridge. This will only work for one pumpkin, and only then if you can make the room.

Carve away.

Tim Kane